Knowing Your Worth as a Writer

Posted on December 4, 2014 by Eli K

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Writing and getting paid for it is exciting at first. You’re doing what you love and someone is giving you money for your creative talents. However, with enough work out there to really make a living as a writer these days, both in content, journalism, and creative endeavors, it’s important to know what is worth writing for money and what isn’t worth writing for money. This is a skill you need to learn in the trade craft of being a writer, as much as you need to learn how to spell and punctuate correctly. Below are some tips on what is worth writing for money and what isn’t worth writing for money in the freelance writing business.

Underpriced Articles

Most articles are priced at per word rates, equaling a set amount upon completion. You should have a certain cut off for the total amount you will write an article for and you should try not to deviate from this unless you really need the work. Doing a 500 to 1000 word article for five dollars is incredibly low, for example, and, even if you are writing about something you know very well, it won’t necessarily be worth it monetarily, as your hourly rate will be well below minimum wage. Cheap article writers don’t make more money—rather they end up writing a lot without proper compensation and wear themselves out for future, more lucrative jobs.

High Priced Articles You May Not Do Perfectly

There will also be jobs out there that have great rates per word or piece but are about subjects you don’t know very well. Try to avoid these assignments as well, even though the high pay makes them incredibly tempting to accept and just “wing” when you write. Most clients will recognize your lack of knowledge about the subject and the fact that you just did a few cursory Google searches to learn about it as quickly as possible. Not only will they not be satisfied with your work, leading to you possibly not getting paid for it, they probably won’t hire you in the future for assignments you could easily write, costing you even more money down the line.

Take Revisions into Account

This is especially important when working with a new client on a variety of assignments. While their per word rate and the total amount they pay per article may be fine with what you are willing to write for, what you don’t know are the number of revisions they will require you to do. These can add up to many extra hours of work, most of which you won’t be paid for, on top of the initial rate. This makes the job far less appealing in the long run, but you’re now in the midst of it and have no choice but to see it through to the end, so it’s at least worth something. This is a trial by error process and good content sites often stiffly monitor their clients on this front—but it’s always an important thing for a working writer to be aware of.

Eli K has been writing full time for over a decade and has worked with a wide variety of clients, most of whom are fantastic.


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